Sunday, July 25, 2010

morning harvest

Our garden has been loving the hot weather - the tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and pattypan are very happy. The snap peas have gone by and the green beans are just starting to flower. The garlic is trying its best to dry despite this very, very humid weather we've been having here in NH. The Brussels sprouts were attacked overnight all at once by cabbage worms, and we had to pull the plants - they were decimated (it was a sad moment, yanking those plants up!!). And this morning we picked our first ever yellow crookneck squash, along with the cukes and tomatoes in the photo. We even have a couple little tiny pumpkins on the vine. I don't know if it's too late in the season for them to mature into pick-able fruit, but it's pretty nifty to see them out there trying their best (we've never had success growing pumpkins before, so this is the closest we've come yet to our own little pumpkin patch in the back yard). Happy day!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

mo-pug moments

Mo-Pug loves an afternoon nap on the couch -

And her head gets VERY heavy sometimes... good thing she doesn't have to hold it up all on her own!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

monday at the farmers' market

Our squash and cucumber plants in the garden continue to grow and grow - but we have nothing to pick (yet!!). So we headed off to the Durham Farmers' Market this afternoon, where we found treats like these in abundant supply! Yellow squash, zucchini, pattypan squash, cucumbers, green squash... all good!!

When we came home though, I realized we needed garlic to make our pattypan squash casserole - so out into the garden went my son, and in he came with this. Fresh garlic, straight from the backyard raised beds! He was so proud that he helped grow something so wonderful - this is the first bulb we've picked this year (we'll let the rest continue to grow for a few weeks more so they'll be even larger when we harvest, unless we need a couple more for cooking first!). Gardening with kids is definitely rewarding, educational, and wonderful all at the same time!

One more photo to share - speaking of fabulous market treats, this weekend we came across the first new potatoes we'd seen this year at another local market. Roasted new potatoes and local chicken - last night's dinner was a yummy one!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

barrington open farm day

Today we headed to Barrington, NH for Open Farm Day. There's no way I can resist an opportunity to go and see alpacas!!

First we headed to Profile Alpacas - what a beautiful place! They had chickens strutting about -

And adorable Nigerian Dwarf Goats -

And what had to be the world's friendliest llama. He came running over to the fence when we approached, and stood with us for as long as we'd keep rubbing his head and ears. We'd stop - he'd walk away. We'd hold our hand out - he'd come over for more rubs. He even put his head down low so my 7 year old could reach his nose (did I get a picture of that?? No - but trust me, it was a precious moment!!).

Of course they had alpacas too - but the fences were high, so I didn't get any photos except some that were through the bars. No worries though - because the alpacas over at Sallie's Fen were more than happy to have their photo taken -

And one of them in particular, like the friendly llama at Profile, really liked having his head rubbed!! Alpacas are just the sweetest animal - so gentle, and so curious. And when they're happy, they hum. Adorable!!

While we were enjoying the alpacas, we noticed the unusual mulch in the garden at Sallie's Fen - leftover alpaca fiber. Now that makes for an awesome and interesting looking garden!!

It was a great time - I'm already looking forward to next year's Farm Day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

cucurbits gone crazy

I had a little trouble deciding the title of this post.
Sea of Squash came to mind. Or Why I Will Never be Without Rabbits Again.
But then my 7 year old said, on his way in from the back yard where he had been picking snap peas (47 snap peas to be exact - not that he was counting...), "Mom, the cucurbits are going crazy out there!" and I decided that definitely described exactly the situation in our garden. Our cucurbits (that would be our squash and our cucumbers) are definitely growing like nothing I've ever seen in our particular little raised bed gardens!!

This is just some of our squash, with a few cucumber plants mixed in. We never expected them to grow like this - if we had, we'd have planted them with a little more space between! The pattypan (far right) were put in as small seedlings, but the rest were grown from seed sown directly outdoors (we tried starting seeds indoors last year, and our plants all died when we transferred them outdoors - so we didn't try again this year).

I took this photo to try to show how large the leaves are growing - we've taken to calling the plants "prehistoric squash" on account of the leaves reminding us of dinosaur footprints (and on account of it looking like a jungle out there!).

Best of all, here come the baby pattypan squash - once the flowers open and are pollinated by all the bees that are flying around out there, the baby squash will start growing bigger - and soon I'll be having pattypan squash casserole... yum!!

So, why all the excitement over these giant-sized cucurbit plants?? Well, last year, we grew pattypan squash and we had an okay yield, but the plants grew to maybe half the size they are out there now. And our zucchini plants were very small last year, only yielding a handful of baby zucchini before withering away to nothing. Our cucumbers? Oh goodness - they failed miserably.

Over the weekend we were talking about what we'd done differently this year, and the answer is clear - rabbit poop. We've never purchased fertilizers or "inputs" for our gardens, and in the past we've instead used homemade compost (from lawn and garden scraps thrown together to rot in an outdoor composter) and worm compost. These are all good things - but this year we added lots of composted rabbit manure, as well as some non-composted manure (which will continue to break down and feed the garden throughout the summer) to the raised beds. And now, after reading and reading over the last few years about how animals are magical in what they can do for a garden (manure is your friend!!), I've seen the difference with my own eyes in terms of the size and color and health of our plants this year compared to last, and I'm amazed. Indeed, I will never be without rabbits again!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

garlic scape pesto

I've been talking a lot about garlic scapes lately, and wanted to share the recipe (it's a simple one!) for one of my favorite Spring treats - garlic scape pesto. The pesto we made this week had scapes from our own garden, as well as from two local farms, and was made starting with the recipe below and then adjusted for taste (we used less oil and more garlic scapes than the recipe calls for). I enjoy the pesto on toasted homemade bread, crackers, and sometimes pasta. It freezes well, so don't worry about making too much - just throw it in the freezer and continue to enjoy even once garlic scape season has passed!

Garlic Scape Pesto

1/4 lb garlic scapes, cut into pieces
1 cup grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil

Place garlic scapes and olive oil in food processor, and puree until smooth. Stir in Parmesan and lemon juice, and season to taste.

That's all there is to it! Some people add pine nuts, walnuts, etc. just like with basil pesto - but I like it with just the Parmesan and lemon juice. Whatever suits your taste, go for it and enjoy!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

yard sale treasures and farmers' market fun

The Newmarket, NH farmers' market began its summer season today, and we of course had to go and get garlic scapes (thank you, Wild Miller Gardens!) and broccoli (thank you, Hollister Family Farm!). We'll be making more garlic scape pesto this evening, which is a good thing since I finished our first batch on toast with breakfast this morning... yum!! There were all sorts of other treasures there at the Market too - from meat and eggs to soup and seedlings, they had it all covered! The new location for the market is perfect - it's just next to the Stone Church, instead of in the Stone Church parking lot. This leaves more space for parking - always a good thing for such a busy little market!!

On the way to the market, we stopped at a couple yard sales. I was excited to find a cute cement planter for $1.00 -

And a play-yard that will work just perfectly for Mr Luke so that he and Yoda can be outside hopping about at the same time (they can't share a pen, as they squabble when they get together). Although I'm not excited about bringing too much plastic into the house, I think this play yard was well worth the $5 we paid for it - and I figure if we use it, it doesn't end up in the landfill!

Luke and Yoda were of course more than happy to try out their pens this afternoon...

Our final find for today was a fabulous food mill in near-new condition (the man selling it asked us what it was when we bought it - he said he found it in his mother's closet and had no idea - so he threw it in the 50 cent pile and figured someone would take it home... that'd be us!). It'll be perfect for making tamales from scratch, which my husband likes to do a couple times each year. And since making tamales from scratch means grinding corn, and last time we were grinding corn we burned out our blender (oops!!!) this food mill should make for more physical labor in the cooking process, but less reliance on modern appliances that aren't always up to old-fashioned jobs!!

Hope you're having a great weekend too!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

our thinking rabbit

Yoda is a thinking rabbit. His buddy Luke is content to just hop about and eat clover when he's outside - hop about and eat pellet food when he's in the hutch - hop and eat, hop and eat.

But if you put Yoda in his hutch, he looks for trouble - most specifically he looks to see if he can figure out how to nibble the cage wire in such a way as to make not just tiny holes - but rather as to make it unravel, 2 foot long piece by 2 foot long piece.

If you make a special trip to the feed store to get a food dish that hooks onto the side of the hutch so he'll stop dumping his pellet food every time you feed him, he'll watch you hook it on for a couple days, and then on the third day, he'll hop over after you hook on the dish, grab the edge of the dish in his mouth, LIFT the dish ever so slightly up into the air to disengage the hooks from the wire, and hop away to the other side of the hutch with the dish held in his mouth, to place it in the back corner where he likes to eat a little first, and then dump the rest.

Yes, this is not a rabbit for those who lack a sense of humor!!!

Anyway, so if you put him in the x-pen that contains Luke perfectly well in the yard, and then you lie a piece of fencing on top in an attempt to discourage jumping, Yoda immediately wonders how he can get around this obstacle and head for greener pastures!!

He really is a riot, our little Yoda friend!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

the garden is growing!

We stopped by the Durham farmers' market this afternoon, and Wake Robin farm had BROCCOLI!! Yum, yum, and more yum - broccoli for dinner tonight!! Folks also had snap peas, snow peas, cucumbers, strawberries, beets, and lots of greens and garlic scapes. We came home with eggs, broccoli, snow peas, and cucumbers - and then headed out into our garden to see how things were coming along.

Mo of course kept an eye on Luke, to make sure he was eating clover and not vegetables...

Which Luke was more than happy to do -

Anyway, on to the plants...

The Brussels Sprouts are growing (after getting cabbage worms last year, we thought about not growing Brussels sprouts again - but I just love them so much, we had to give it another try, even if it does mean we'll be picking worms off the plants again!).

Someone/something has already been getting to the broccoli plants... will be keeping an eye out to see who it is and how we can encourage them to go eat elsewhere!

The pattypan squash are growing like crazy - as are the kale and more Brussels sprouts in the background!

Lemon cucumber plants are looking good -

And the kale, well - it's growing and growing and growing!!

The garlic is getting tall and the stems are getting thick. We cut scapes off all but 2 of the garlic plants, and the scapes are going straight into tonight's stirfry!

Saved the best for last - when we checked a couple days ago, the pea plants were flowering -

And now, the peas are growing!!

If you have a garden this year, I hope it too is growing happily and well!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

farmers markets are fun in the rain!

Even though it's raining and COLD right now in New Hampshire, today's farmers' markets were still full of goodness! We went to both Exeter and Lee, and came home with garlic scapes, cucumbers, kohlrabi, garlic/dill quark (yum!!!), asparagus (probably the last for this year, according to the farmer...), ground beef, and eggs. Since we also stopped at Warren Farm this morning for snap peas, and the lettuce, kale, and spinach in our garden are growing like crazy and allowing us to harvest just about daily right now, we're looking forward to some veggie-filled meals this week!!

Since peas are best enjoyed soon after picking, tonight's dinner will include Garlic Snap Peas (recipe courtesy of Green Earth Institute) -

Heat: 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil.
Stir in: 1 large clove minced garlic.
Add: 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas.
Cook and stir 2 to 4 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat.
Sprinkle with: 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
Season with salt and pepper and serve over rice, if desired.
Serves 2.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

tomatoes in may

Yes indeed, we went to the Exeter farmers' market this afternoon, and Heron Pond Farm had greenhouse-grown tomatoes! They also had strawberries, which we didn't get since we have some of our own growing outside (though ours aren't red yet) - but it was nice to see such treats this early in the Spring!

We did bring home more than just tomatoes - we got chicken, baby bok choy, cucumbers (another amazing sight this early in the season!), duck eggs (which I've never tried before - so I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how they are!), and Brookford Farm yogurt.

Then when we got home, we harvested another big bowl of kale from the garden - so tonight's dinner will be a stir fry of kale, bok choy, onion, garlic, and chicken - with a cucumber salad on the side. I'm hungry already!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

kale, kale, everywhere kale!

We spent lots of time in the garden this weekend, as the 10-day forecast gives us no chance of cold temperatures, so it was time to get the tomatoes planted! For tomato seedlings, we planted Juliet, 4th of July, and a grape tomato variety whose name I can't recall right now. We also planted (from seed) green beans, zucchini, pattypan squash, 2 different varieties of cucumbers, and crookneck squash... plus 2 pattypan squash seedlings.

But the most fun of the weekend was harvesting a bowl full of our own grown-from-seed curly kale, to add to a stir-fry dinner Sunday night. The full dinner consisted of almost all local ingredients - the chicken, garlic, and onion were all from the farmers' markets. The kale from our own garden. And the rice, salt, and soy sauce were from afar.

This was our kale, pre-harvest - there's still plenty of it outside - we picked the outer leaves, and so more leaves will keep growing (and we'll keep adding them to stir-fries!!).

As for the rest of the garden, we have lettuce growing bigger every day (we've been harvesting the outer leaves of the lettuce plants for salads, and leaving the inner leaves to grow larger) -

The peas are growing taller (though I wonder how the very hot weather predicted for the next 2 days is going to affect them)...

And the garlic is the happiest garlic I've seen this early in the season -

And now we eagerly await the emergence of the beans, cucumbers, and squashes that we seeded. So far this year, life in the garden is super good!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

photos from the festival

We had a great time at the Sheep and Wool Festival - even though it's extremely windy and rather chilly in NH today, there were plenty of folks bundled up in hats, coats, and even mittens, checking out the sheep, alpacas, vendor booths (such amazingly beautiful yarn and fiber for sale!!), and other exhibits out at the Hopkinton Fairgrounds today. Thought I'd share a few photos - it was so windy I was having trouble holding my camera still, so please pardon the blurry alpacas!!

A bunch of friends, hanging out together -

So cute!

Having a little hay-snack -

The sheep and angora goat displays were fun too -

It was definitely a fun day - I'm looking forward to next year's festival already!